December 27, 2012

Food Origins #1 Tamales

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Earlier this year I decided to take a culinary trip to scout out a location that I thought I might want to take my family to if it was suitable. Some of you remember seeing the footage of me laying on the ground while a street entertainer juggled machetes over my body. Well, that was Oaxaca, Mexico. As it turned out, I don’t plan on taking my family there for now due to some experiences I had while there but I did quite enjoy the cuisine.

 

I took an extreme interest in Mexican cuisine and that was what took me to Oaxaca. My neighbor is a pilot and he told me about the world class cuisine for there. Paris and Rome, both culinary meccas, ironically, would not be the same without Mexico. There were three major things taken from Mexico and brought to Europe by the Spanish which changed everything. Tomatoes, Potatoes and chocolate. Think about Italy without tomatoes,  Ireland and Germany without potatoes and the Swiss without chocolate. Bye bye pizza, spaghetti, and even Nutella, heaven forbid!!  Well, street food in Oaxaca proved fantastic and inexpensive. Tacos, mole, fruit, Squirt soda with chili sauce (no likee), elote on a stick (corn with mayo and chili powder). I must say though the good about the HOT TAMALES I had was that they were HOT. I have been dissecting the tamale for a few years. My uncle, whose family originated in Mexico, picks a day every year and makes dozens of tamales and freezes them like Lynn Wilson burritos, only better. They are awesome!

So, I set out to dissect the tamale and make a great tamale. I will give you a step by step below.

 

 

The logic behind the tamale:

First, when people say they don’t like tamales it is usually because there was too much Masa (the corn that surrounds the meat and stuff) and not enough meat and stuff. Simple solution: decrease masa and increase meat and stuff.

Step one: Purchase Masa and corn husks from local mexican food store. Soak the husks in water. It doesn’t seem to matter how long. Just more than 30 minutes so they are pliable for later.

Step two: Preparation of the meat and sauce. This can be done with pork, steak, chicken, leftover turkey, ham, fruit, nutella, chocolate chips, etc.. I like to use pork. I smoke my pork and have even done turkey but I am going to recommend the crock pot. Simply stick your meat in the crock pot with steak seasonings, cilantro chopped (a bunch of it) salt and pepper to taste. Just make it like you would make a roast or something. It just needs to taste good. For spicy add chopped jalepenos or a local hot sauce from a Mexican market.

Step three: Chop up the meat and add more spice if you like.

Step four: Make the Masa. Remember masa is not everyone’s favorite so I make mine taste good (learned on youtube) by using chicken broth instead of water. it is important that whatever you do the water must be warm, not cold. The amounts I cannot give because I do it by feel. I place about half a bag of masa mix in my Bosch mixer and then add the broth. One more key ingredient must be added at this point. Manteca. I shouldn’t tell you that Manteca is Lard because it scares people but I would be lying. If you feel bad, then think about the Cafe Rio you had recently. Yup, those awesome tortillas are awesome because of Lard. It is key! Mix this until you get a mixture that is a little more creamy than cookie dough. It should be a little sticky.

Step five. Form an assembly line. One person applies the masa to the corn husk and passes it to the person next to them who adds the meat and some queso fresco and/or more hot sauce, then passes it to the next person who wraps it with string or yarn. Watch this video at about 21:25 minutes to see how to apply masa. The whole video is good.

I like my masa to be a little more wet because they tend to dry out later if not.

Step Six: Freeze or steam. Place in a steamer right side up so they don’t leak. Steam for 45 minutes or so or about an hour if they are frozen. Let sit for 5 minutes or so and then eat.

 

Tamales were introduced to America at the 1893 World’s fair. Robert Johnson (one of my fave blues artists wrote this song about them in 1936.

August 3, 2012

The Journey

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On our family trips I think I enjoy the journey sometimes more than the destination. As a photographer everything is grist for the mill and we are like bugs, attracted to light.(Think A Bugs Life: “It’s so beautiful! Zap!”)

This is a part of a series of pictures I am gathering for art work for our home. This trip from Jackson to Logan is so much a part of me. I did it so many times as a kid and the light  in the evening is always pristine. I like art that means something to me. Hate abstract!!

The pictures with the horses was taken actually in Preston right before you hit the Burger King on the north end of town. This is the last picture my wife let me take cause stopping at the tail end of a journey is not popular I have discovered.

The grain mills below  are just outside of Soda Springs. Make sure and take your kids to Hooper Springs at least once while passing through so they can drink out of the springs and know what water tastes like when you mix pennies and tonic water. DELISH 🙁

Again Hasselblad and Fuji film. Love this camera!

July 26, 2012

No place like the Yellowstone

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I get the call of the wild every summer. Yellowstone calls me like no where else. I feel so lucky to live so close. It is the only place I actually like tourists. Yesterday at our campsite we had Koreans on the left and West Virginians on the right. The W. Virginians drive 32 hours to get there and they come often. The Koreans saw that we were from Utah and in broken english asked if we were Mormons. She about blew a gasket when she found out we were. They have a son on a mission in Seoul Korea but they live in Arizona. I told them that Korean food was my favorite food and the next thing I know she was gathering a bag full of fine Korean food which became our lunch that afternoon. Yes, Korean food is awesome and underrated too.

Anyway, this was an epic trip with my family. You can spend a lifetime there and still discover new things. Only 10% is really seen by tourists. In the last decade 1,500 new waterfalls have been discovered that no one knew about and they are still finding them. We found a waterfall out in the middle of the forest that was safe to swim in for all ages. It is hidden and you have to walk across a river on a fallen tree to get there so it is hard to find.We swam in it and cleaned up under the falls.  It was like a hidden paradise. It will likely remain that way.

We are going back in September for a wedding I have in Jackson Hole and we will be doing support for my friends doing LOTOJA. We are going to do our family pictures by this scene below with the little stream.

These pictures were taken on the road between Madison and Old Faithful early morning.

July 19, 2012

Manti, UT to Whitney, ID

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It seems lately I have been all over the place. Mind you, I am not complaining. I handle the road pretty well (audio books) as long as I get a good nights sleep. This week I have been in Bountiful, then yesterday Logan for the ceremony and down to Salt Lake for the reception. Tonight I am back at home in Logan then tomorrow in Bountiful and Saturday Logan again. Last week was no different. This wedding took place at the Manti temple on Friday. We got blasted with an impromptu thunderstorm. All were drenched since we were far away from cover. I love rain!! Saturday it still threatened rain for the reception in Idaho. Andi Saxton and crew at Sego Event Planning knocked this one out of the park notwithstanding. They are the best. THE BEST!! They moved everything into the unfinished house and garage and made it look world class.




July 19, 2012

A night at the airport

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My flight got bumped coming home from Mexico at the last minute and the next flight was early morning so I made a hotel out of a bench in the San Fran Airport. This happens when you fly stand-by so you have to be prepared. Worst place I have ever slept was on the lawn under the Washington Monument in Washington D.C.. I had to leave abruptly as the sprinklers turned on and move to a bench under the Lincoln Memorial.

I must say, I slept better on this bench in San Fran than I did my entire trip in Mexico.

The following are some of the pics I took in the airport in the middle of the night to kill time.



April 23, 2012

Santa Monica Pier… preview.

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Seriously, if you ever doubt the goodness in people just take a bride and groom to Santa Monica Pier. In all my 12 years of photographing weddings all over the place I have never seen anything like it. At least 150 people congratulated the bride and groom as we walked through this crowded pier. We walked past a restaurant and almost everyone in the restaurant started cheering through the windows. It was seriously so amazing!! I will post a bunch in the next day or two. I had so much fun with these guys!